Thursday, April 1, 2010

McGilvra honored with State school award

McGilvra is one of only five Seattle elementary schools to receive a 2009 Washington Achievement Award from the State Board of Education and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The awards, recently announced by the Superintendent (prior to his DUI arrest), are part of the Education Board’s accountability program, under which all State schools were indexed for the performance of their students in statewide reading, writing, math and science tests for the last three school years (2007-2009), as well as for the schools’ extended graduation rate. The State awards are being given to schools that have “profoundly affected student learning.”

McGilvra is one of 51 elementary schools in the Seattle School District. The four other Seattle elementary school award recipients are Beacon Hill, Bryant, Hay and Laurelhurst. Statewide, only 70 elementary schools were recognized. So for McGilvra, this is a big honor. Congratulations to the teachers and staff of the School—as well as to those studious kids—for their achievement.

Incidentally, McGilvra’s demographics were posted to the Seattle School website recently (though mining the data there practically required a request under the Public Disclosure Act). McGilvra has 257 students enrolled this school year, which is in line with last year’s level. Of these, 77% are white (compared to 46% for the District as a whole) and only 6% qualify for a free or reduced-cost lunch (compared to 40% District-wide). Much of this difference in school demographics, relative to the rest of the City, is the result of neighborhood characteristics; but only 59% of McGilvra’s students live in the general area (within the boundaries of the McGilvra school-assignment area). Almost all of the students in the School are there because their parents chose the school as their first choice for assignment (only 7% are in the school as a result of a second or lower choice).

Some changes may take place next year in the enrollment mix, according to PTA co-President Bob Steedman. This is the result of the New Student Assignment Plan, which among other changes, mandates that students living within a school’s enrollment area are automatically allowed to attend their neighborhood school. This alone should not impact McGilvra, since McGilvra already is able to accommodate the children of area residents and still have 40% excess capacity for students from other areas. This year is a transition year for the new plan (previously enrolled students are allowed to stay in the school whether or not they would qualify under the new rules), and it is not clear how the plan may work in future years when grandfathering goes away. Siblings of grandfathered students, for example, will not be automatically assigned to the same school. This has been a big issue for many parents. The introduction of special education programs into certain elementary schools may also cause changes in enrollment. For McGilvra, as for the rest of the City’s schools, the assignment plan remains a moving target.


  1. Bryan,

    If there has been one constant in my many years living in Seattle and Madison Park it has been the excellence exhibited at the McGilvra Elementary School and the inability for the Seattle School District to stay out of the student assignment process.

    For decades McGilvra parents have volunteered, raised money and worked tirelessly to support their children, teachers and principals.

    Ever since the "busing" fiasco of the 70's and 80's, that invented the term "white flight" and led to an explosion of development and new school districts into our suburbs, the Seattle School District has wasted untold hours of effort micro-managing what student is going to be assigned to what school. If those hours had been translated into efforts to educate our children maybe all of Seattle's schools would exhibit the high standards of McGilvra.

  2. I would add to the comment above - as with most successful schools, the parents deserve a lot of credit in addition to the teachers.


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